Mac Pro Workstation-Class Desktop (2012) Review

\"\"For two years, consumers have waited for an update to the Mac Pro, Apple’s flagship desktop model, and now the wait is finally over. Unfortunately, the update hasn’t turned out to be all that grand. The CPU has been upgraded from 2.93ghz to 3.02ghz, which is not a massive overhaul considering that most of the other specs are unchanged.

With that said, the Mac Pro’s specs are still impressive: 64GB of memory, 1TB hard drive, and an ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, which can be upgraded to a Radeon 5870, ideal for more graphically demanding applications.

The basic model is a quad-core, 3.02ghz processor with a 1TB hard drive, 6GB of memory and an 18x SuperDrive for $2,449. Users who want the most power possible can pay $3,799 for an upgrade to two 2.4ghz processors and 12GB of memory. There is also a special server model available for $2,999 with the 3.2ghz processor, OSX Lion Server, 8GB of memory and double the hard drive storage space of the other models.

The Mac Pro comes standard with five USB 2.0 and four FireWire ports. Unlike the MacBook models, there is unfortunately no USB 3.0 support and no Thunderbolt cable port. The Mac Pro is Apple’s only desktop model with expansion slots, and like the previous models, it’s easy to upgrade the Mac Pro – just sliding out the side panel will give you access to all the internal components.

The Mac Pro remains as easy to upgrade and customize as it always has been, and this is one of its greatest strengths. You can add up to four hard drives and two optical drives to the Mac Pro, and multiple professional-grade graphics cards for professional multimedia editing purposes.

In fact, the graphics processing abilities of the Mac Pro remain its strongest feature, as before. Professional-grade video editing, animation and 3D modeling are all possible with the Mac Pro. The graphics cards in the Mac Pro can be connected with up to three display ports or six if the optional second graphics card is installed. The graphics look as great as can be expected from a flagship desktop Mac, and users who continue to choose Macs for their graphics processing capabilities will not be disappointed.

For users who are considering updating their existing Mac Pros and wondering if the new features are worth the cost, the answer is most likely not. The only real difference between the Mac Pro 2012 and 2010 is a modest bump in processor speed, which is not likely to be worth the upgrade cost of up to $4,000. If this is your introduction to the Mac Pro desktop, it’s worth getting, but if you already run the 2010 version then your money is most likely best spent elsewhere.

Apple has already confirmed in the press that further revisions are likely for 2013, so it’s probably wisest to wait to see if they will deliver a more substantial upgrade then. With such a small update this time around and another promised revision so close in the future, the question has to be asked: why did they bother releasing the 2012 version at all? It’s certainly nice for new first-time buyers to have a faster processor, but for those of us who already own a Mac Pro it seems redundant. Verdict:

While the Mac Pro 2012 continues Apple’s legacy of strong desktop computers, there are not enough differences to truly warrant an upgrade. Unless your pockets are deep or you already need a new desktop Mac, it’s probably worth waiting another year.

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